Dunedin has many unique and beautiful spots to explore; from New Zealand’s only castle, through to the world’s only mainland royal albatross colony. Among these many treasures are some that are sure to please those with a literary soul. A selection of some of these special places are noted here for your online viewing pleasure.
Allen Hall Theatre
At the University of Otago the Allen Hall Theatre provides a venue for student productions, including the popular twice-weekly lunchtime theatre for much of the year. Theatre Studies staff have also long been a part of the city's vibrant theatre scene. The Department of Theatre Studies also maintains Theatre Aotearoa, an archive of information about stage productions in New Zealand from the nineteenth century to the present day. The German Department regularly produces plays in German, and the Classics Department annually produces classical tragedies and comedies translated into English by award-winning playwright Harry Love.
De Beer Gallery
The de Beer Collection houses a number of collections that are rare, valuable and historically significant works that are quite remarkable in New Zealand. It comprises over 7,000 pre- and post-1800 books and manuscripts that showcase aspects of European civilization and culture from the Renaissance to the end of the 20th century. It enjoys international importance as a research resource and has international standing in areas of 17th century English history, politics and philosophy, 18th century poetry, travel and guide books, the history of horticulture, and European architecture, especially Roman antiquities and baroque Rome. Major strengths include works by and about John Evelyn, and works by and about John Locke. Foreign language works in Italian, French and German also feature.
Dunedin Chinese Garden
The beautiful Dunedin Chinese Garden is a traditional Chinese scholars garden, offering the perfect environment for poets and writers to escape the outside world and focus on nature and literature. This garden, modelled on a much older version in Dunedin’s sister city of Shanghai, was a gift to the city to celebrate the connection and contribution of the city’s Chinese community to the Shanghai sister city relationship. Readings and writing competitions are usually held around Chinese new year and Moon Festival in October.
Dutybound is the premises and bindery of David Stedman, a Bookbinder, designer and restorer of books and print related materials. Based in the original John McIndoe Printers bindery at 57 Crawford Street, where David served his apprenticeship, Dutybound is home to intriguing old printing and binding equipment which is still used to hand craft books and items today. One of the very few Intertype machines left in the South Island is proudly displayed in the front window; its mysterious appearance has attracted a lot of attention recently, it’s not widely known that the machine revolutionised printing. Purchase from the unique range of handmade blank journals, notebooks and albums and experience the working bindery.
Centrally situated in a glorious historic church building on the corner of Moray Place and Stuart Street, Dunedin’s Fortune Theatre is the world’s southern-most professional theatre company. The Fortune has a close association with leading New Zealand playwright Roger Hall and throughout the seasons offers a slice of something for everyone, from Roger Hall to Roald Dahl; from Shakespeare to emerging New Zealand playwrights.
The Globe is where New Zealand's best known poet, James K Baxter, had his first plays produced. This 'theatre in a house' was created in 1961 by Patric and Rosalie Carey when they extended the living room of their house in London Street into an auditorium, converting it into a small, 30 seat theatre which they called The Globe. This was later modified into the 80 seat theatre which exists today.
Hard To Find Bookshop
In 2013, Warwick Jordan moved 250,000 books the length of the New Zealand to Dowling St, Dunedin and is now the proud owner of the largest single book store in New Zealand. From rare and collectible books to modern 1st editions, from old hardback books to the common, cheap and cheerful paperback, the Hard to Find Bookshop is a treasure-trove of quality, fascinating second hand books. A quirky, delightful and totally inspiring experience, the Hard to Find Bookshop is definitely well worth a visit.
Dunedin has a large number of outstanding libraries and hours can be spent soaking up the calm and contemporary environments, while finding a read to satisfy the soul. Dunedin’s reputation as a literary city in the literary and learning stakes can be seen by the incredible wealth of mediaeval manuscripts, precious historical items, generous bequests and impressive photographic and pictorial collections housed in our libraries.
Dunedin libraries also have exciting event calendars, with lectures, performance, art and launches often reflecting activities around the city.The per capita use of the public library is impressive, with more than a million people through the doors annually and 40,000 individuals participating in events and outreach programmes. Not bad for a city of around 123,000 people!
Olveston Historic Home
New Zealand’s finest historic house museum, ‘Olveston’, was built as the family home of collector and philanthropist David Theomin. A connoisseur of the ‘finest things in life’, the house was gifted to the city of Dunedin complete with all the original contents in 1966. Over 250 artworks, 3000+ books and manuscripts, sculptures, tapestries, furniture and domestic wares assist the telling of story of this wealth emigrant Jewish merchant family, their friends and fellow supporters of Dunedin rich artistic and cultural history in the early 1900s. By guided tour only, this architectural masterpiece is set within a ‘Garden of National Significance’. The opulence of ‘Olveston’ is a visual, historic and aesthetic delight.
Established in 1868, the Otago Museum’s world-class collection has made it a hub for the local community. Seven galleries and Discovery World Tropical Forest offer windows into local, national and international science and history, and dedicated exhibition galleries host niche and touring exhibitions. The Museum runs a popular storytelling series for children, among a variety of other family-friendly programmes.
The Reed Collection's illuminated Mediaeval manuscripts are one of the most outstanding assemblies of European visual art from the Middle Ages in Australasia. Located on the third floor of the City Library, the exhibitions in this Gallery change regularly and highlight central themes in the library’s collections. Visitors are offered the chance to see precious or rare items of historical and cultural value. The Gallery’s exhibitions are now available to view online and can be enjoyed via the Reed Gallery portal of the Dunedin Public Libraries’ website.
The Regent Theatre, situated in the Octagon, is unquestionably Dunedin’s most beautiful theatre. Originally a cinema, it was acquired by the City Council in 1979 and depends heavily on the dedication of volunteers and fundraising efforts. The most visible and best-known of these is the annual 24-hour book sale, New Zealand’s biggest with over 200,000 donated items on offer. The Regent hosts musicals, opera, and dance performances, often by international groups, as well as film festivals, special film screenings, and events at the biennial Otago Festival of the Arts.
Robbie Burns Statue
A statue of Robbie Burns was unveiled in 1887, and stands in the Octagon, taking pride of place in the heart of the City. Robert Burns was the national poet of Scotland, and wrote lyrics and songs in Scottish dialect. His nephew Thomas Burns was a leading figure in the founder of the Otago province. The statue was designed and cast by Sir John Steell of Edinburgh in 1886, who was the most famous Scottish sculptor of the 19th century. Today “Robbie” remains a popular focal point and meeting place for both residents and visitors and is often dressed up when celebrations are in town.
Stafford 6 Books
Under one roof Stafford 6 Books at 6 Stafford St brings together a second hand booksellers guild of 6 stalls including our largest, The Ongoing Book Sale Supporting the Fred Hollows Foundation.
This stall, has an extensive literary section including poetry, drama, literary biography and literary theory and within it we can meet some of your literary needs for as little as $1 a book. But if it's crime, cooking, sport or mind and spirit you're after they have that too. Donations, especially of quality New Zealand literature, will help bolster their collection of local authors.
Toitū Otago Settlers Museum
Toitū Otago Settlers Museum is a museum of social history dedicated to telling the many stories of the people of Dunedin and the surrounding area, whose character, culture, technology, art, fashion and transport shaped New Zealand’s first great city. Its fourteen themed galleries feature interactive displays and powerful narratives tracing the human history of the area, from the earliest settlers to the most recent arrivals. Along with a vibrant calendar of events, Toitu also offers a free and stimulating “A Good Read” book club, and for the younger at heart, a popular storytime for toddlers.
The University Book Shop
When you step through the door you know you are in a real bookshop – one of the oldest and largest independent bookshops in New Zealand. Offering books for all ages and interests, whether tastes run to modern painters or ancient history, classical music or computer programming, crime fiction or New Zealand poetry. The University Book Shop also offers an on-line shop providing access to over 100,000 titles, an eclectic book blog at www.theubsreviewofbooks.wordpress.com and the icing on the cake - lovely, enthusiastic and well-informed staff. The shop is also an advocate for literary pursuits and arts in the city, supporting book awards and festivals, book launches and storytimes; and also provides, in conjunction with the Friends of the Library, a book to every newborn arrival at Dunedin’s Queen Mary Maternity Centre via the Books for Babies scheme.
Window of Shanghai Collection City Library
In 2003, "Window of Shanghai" was set up in libraries of the sister cities of Shanghai or via friendly agreements with other cities, as part of the “China Book International” project. It seeks to redress the limited Chinese language holdings in overseas libraries, and to provide overseas readers with more access to the latest Chinese publications. The collection, located on the first floor of the City Library, was launched on 26th November 2008 in the presence of the then Mayor Peter Chin, and two representatives of the Shanghai Public Library.
Take a stroll around the heart of the City in the Octagon and meet some of the most inspirational writers who have something to say about Dunedin and its unique place in the world. A series of brass plaques set into the ground marks many writers quotes, tell an endearing tale of Dunedin’s literary heritage.